Page last updated at 13:05 GMT, Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Synagogue hit by graffiti attacks

A synagogue in Newcastle has been targeted by vandals and daubed with anti-semitic graffiti.

Jewish leaders said the place of worship in Gosforth had been targeted in recent weeks and some of its members had been subjected to verbal insults.

In the latest attack, yobs wrote "Death to the Zionists" and other insulting slogans on the building's walls.

Rabbi Dovid Lewis said in times of economic hardship Jewish people were often "blamed" and targeted by racists.

He said: "It normally happens in times of hardship.

"When times are tough people do look for a scapegoat and if we follow the rise in anti-semitism - it normally happens when there has been an economic downturn.

Hate mail

"For some reason all the Jews get blamed as if we own all the banks - but my mortgage goes up the same as everyone else's."

He also said the military action in Gaza had prompted anti-Israeli feeling, but attacks in the North East were no worse than other parts of the country.

Last week, the charity Community Security Trust (CST) reported a 9% rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK including hate mail and verbal abuse.

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